Tougher measures being rolled out to curb littering

Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 17 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE: Tougher measures are being rolled out to curb littering in Singapore. From March 2013, fines for first-time litter offenders will go up from S$300 to S$500.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan revealed this on Saturday at a community event in Bukit Panjang.

At the event, the National Environment Agency (NEA) jointly launched a campaign with the North West Community Development Council to encourage the community to inculcate good anti-littering habits.

The campaign is called "Hold on And Bin IT, Make it A H.A.B.IT!", and it is being rolled out to support the Keep Singapore Clean Movement.

The year-long campaign will see about 750 volunteers undergoing the "Litter-Free Ambassadors" programme, where they will be trained to communicate with, and engage the community on the importance of keeping the environment clean and binning their waste properly.

Monthly themed activities will also be held in the North West District to instil a greater sense of environmental ownership.

As part of measures to curb littering, fines for first-time offenders will be increased. The penalties will go up further once amendments to the Environment and Public Health Act are debated in Parliament next year.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "It's not so much the quantum. This is a symbol of society's repudiation of a very bad habit by a very small minority. Money cannot buy cleanliness.

"This is a matter of public safety and public health, so we are treating this as a symbol of commitment to making sure Singapore remains clean and green."

He said the government is also studying the possibility of launching a whistleblowing system, where feedback and complaints by members of the public can be used to prosecute offenders.

Dr Balakrishnan added: "The other thing which we are examining - and it's still in the early stages - is that, we receive a lot of feedback, through email, through social media, as well as digital photos which are sent in to us, saying, 'I know this person, and look what this person has done'.

"We are examining the legal implications of whether or not and how we can pursue investigations whenever we receive feedback like that. And if we can identify the culprit, and if the complainant is willing to testify in court, whether we can then use this as a basis to proceed for prosecution."

Plans are also under way to make the Corrective Work Order (CWO) even more visible. This includes having recalcitrant litterbugs perform CWO in areas such as town centres instead of parks.

Derek Ho Yeong Thye, director-general of the Environmental Public Health Division at the NEA, said: "I think if we place all these CWO exercises in places which is more visible to the public, then I think they will feel more eyes looking on them as they conduct the exercises, and I think they will feel the public pressure on them, that this is not an acceptable behaviour."

-CNA/ac

Littering fines raised from March
Whistleblowing system for public also being studied; peer pressure to be used
Today Online 17 Nov 12;

SINGAPORE - Measures are being rolled out to curb littering in Singapore. From March 2013, fines for first-time litter offenders will go up from S$300 to S$500.

The Environment and Public Health Act will also be amended next year to increase the penalty regimes for recurrent offenders.

And plans are underway to make the Corrective Work Order (CWO) even more visible. This includes having recalcitrant litterbugs perform CWO in areas such as town centres instead of parks.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan revealed this on Saturday at a community event in Bukit Panjang.

He said the Government is also studying the possibility of launching a whistleblowing system, where feedback and complaints by members of the public can be used to prosecute offenders.

On his blog, Dr Balakrishnan posted about the need for increased and coordinated peer pressure, including empowering volunteers.

Noting how the National Environment Agency (NEA) already prosecutes culprits who throw litter from moving vehicles based on the vehicle licence numbers, he wrote: "We will have to explore whether this is feasible when a member of the public identifies a culprit in a public area, especially when he or she is willing to testify in court. I would be grateful for more feedback and suggestions on this matter.

"The key theme is to empower ordinary citizens to exert more peer pressure on anti-social persons in order to protect our common spaces."

The NEA "will conduct a special training course for senior members of environmental NGOs that will commence in January 2013. These volunteers will then be issued with authority cards which will enable them to identify and take enforcement action against recalcitrant persons who insist on littering. This will give them both moral and legal authority to set standards for our society," wrote the Minister.

He called for a "a sense of urgency" on this clean-up effort. "I am optimistic that we can succeed through a combination of renewed personal commitment, increased peer pressure, tighter enforcement, heavier penalties and improved cleaning routines on the ground," wrote Dr Balakrishnan.

750 NORTH WEST VOLUNTEERS

Meanwhile, at the event this morning, the NEA and North West Community Development Council (CDC) today launched "Hold on And Bin IT, Make it A H.A.B.IT!" @ North West, in support of the Keep Singapore Clean Movement.

The programme will see 750 H.A.B.IT volunteers trained to champion responsible binning to residents in the North West District. They will carry out monthly litter-picking exercises and conduct educational outreach.

There will also be monthly themed activiities, such as litter-picking exercises, litter patrols and No Cleaners Day to educate residents.

Dr Teo Ho Pin, Mayor of North West District said: "We will need to cultivate a 'zero tolerance' attitude towards littering and it is through the collective participation of every individual will we achieve our goal in keeping Singapore clean and beautiful."

An NEA study in 2009 found that about 36 per cent of the public would bin their litter only when it was convenient.

Littering will cost you $500
Fines to be raised from $300; senior members of NGOs to get power to catch litterbugs
Kezia Toh & Melody Zaccheus Straits Times 18 Nov 12;

Fines for littering are to be raised from $300 to $500 in a bid to clean up Singapore's streets.

And senior members of non-governmental organisations will be trained and authorised to issue the tougher penalties.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan announced the changes yesterday at an anti-littering event in Bukit Panjang.

He said: "This is a symbol of society's repudiation of the bad habits by a very small minority. Money cannot buy cleanliness.

"This is a matter of public safety and public health, so we are treating this as a symbol of our commitment to making sure Singapore remains clean and green."

The $500 fines, which will kick in from March, apply to first-time offenders. Penalties for repeat offenders will also be raised next year, from the current level of up to $5,000.

Mr Eugene Heng, founder and chairman of volunteer group the Waterways Watch Society, said the tougher fines provide a crucial deterrent. "It is good to increase the amount to make a dent in the litterbug's pocket, but you also need manpower to enforce and educate them not to do it again," said the 63-year-old.

MP Lee Bee Wah (Nee Soon GRC) agreed that more than one approach was needed.

"We are constantly searching for ways to solve the littering problem to improve our living environment," she said. "These include education, enforcement and community peer pressure. While $500 is a rather heavy fine, it is appropriate, considering that complaints of littering are on the rise."

Mr Heng said that the 15-year-old society, which has about 250 volunteers, is looking forward to being given greater power to catch litterbugs.

He added that training sessions, organised by the National Environment Agency, might include lessons on how to be diplomatic with litterbugs and persuade them that their behaviour is wrong.

Volunteers could also receive training on how to book offenders and extract information from them. Dr Balakrishnan said he had been receiving feedback from members of the public who pinpointed litterbugs using e-mail, social media and even digital photographs. He added that he was examining the legal implications of acting on their complaints.

In a blog post yesterday, the minister wrote that a sense of urgency was needed as Singapore embarked upon its next phase of cleaning up.

"I am optimistic that we can succeed through a combination of renewed personal commitment, increased peer pressure, tighter enforcement, heavier penalties and improved cleaning routines on the ground."

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